A couple of years ago, the post office counter in our local shop closed. It was far too expensive to continue paying the £3000 they paid to the shop annually to run it. It was replaced with a post office van which sits (is supposed to sit) in the village car park for 7 hours interspersed throughout the week.
Quite how this saves much money, I’m not sure. 7 hours x £6.08 minimum wage x 52 weeks a year = £2213, and I’m sure the people who drive the van are not on minimum wage, there is at least half that again of travelling time, the van needs maintenance, tax, insurance and petrol, and they pay all the requisite employers’ national insurance.
We have not had much luck with this service. Perhaps we have been unusually unlucky, but I reckon we have about a 50% success rate with the post office van being there when we need it. This was particularly noticeable in the run up to the Christmas cut-off for international post when the van spent a couple of weeks off the road in need of repair (all gossip and hearsay, of course, there being no actual information available). I must have carried that parcel backwards and forwards about four times before giving up and taking it on the 12 mile round trip to Leominster.
Today I needed to post a parcel. You know what’s coming, don’t you? First I checked the Royal Mail website, because I don’t remember the opening hours off by heart. This proved more difficult than usual because our broadband disappeared for a while, but I managed it in the end. 3pm-5pm. Perfect timing, as I had to be at school at 4.30 for a pick up after keyboard club. We left at 4pm, and got to the car park at about ten past. No van. Of course. I met a friend in the adjacent playground. ‘It was here a while ago’, she said, ‘they’ve changed their hours.’ She had seen the sheet of opening times with scribbled amendments on it. They haven’t bothered to update the website, though, or actually tell anyone. The only way to find out the hours now is to manage to be there at the same time as the van, and I don’t seem to be very good at that.
Of course I’m just a customer, and when you’re a monopoly you can afford to annoy your customers. The only thing you can do to vent your frustration is to spend less money with a company that annoys you. Perhaps I shouldn’t send any Christmas cards this year. Maybe if I can email instead, I should, and only send cards to those who aren’t on email. So here’s the question. Would you be insulted if someone who always sends you a card suddenly emails instead? Would that be a terribly un-Christmassy thing to do?
As for today’s attempt at posting a package, I’m sorry Dad, but your birthday present is going to be late. And it isn’t because I forgot!